Living History: Charlie Rhodarmer

History is a subject in school. Some enjoy it, some study it, however, for Charlie Rhodarmer it is living history. One might say he has discovered a time machine, for at any moment, Charlie will take you back in history with historical storytelling in period costumes. It is his calling, evident when you learn his personal history. Born in Haywood County, North Carolina, he was a typical boy that enjoyed the outdoors and participated in Boy Scouts, achieving the prestigious Eagle Scout. With a great interest in military service, it was around the age of 14 that he was introduced to Civil War reenactments, and, as they say, the rest is history.

After high school, Charlie served in the 82nd Airborne. Being a veteran of our country’s military is a significant place of pride, and telling the world about the service of all men and women from the beginning to present is a passion. He received an associate degree in criminal justice from Haywood County College and a bachelor in science from Western Carolina University. While at WCU, Charlie began working at the Mountain Heritage Center.

Before, during and after his time at Mountain Heritage Center, Charlie would be introduced to many life passions. A trip to Fort Loudoun resulted in a lifelong commitment to being a living historian, with a solid involvement as a volunteer since 1988. It was also this time that interests like blacksmithing were ignited, for which he continues today. He has worked at the Scottish Tartans Museum managing exhibits, moving them when it relocated from Highlands, NC, to Franklin, NC. He designed the layout of the museum, building most of the interior himself. He also served as Curator in residence at the Scottish Tartans Museum in Comrie, Scotland, and several years as the exhibit specialist for the JFK Special Warfare Museum at Fort Bragg. His permanent position with Boys Scouts of America led to becoming the National Scouting Museum Curator in Murray, KY. When the decision came to move that museum to Dallas, TX., it seemed the next life stage would be in Texas. However, a conversation on the phone with his mentor would change the direction.

That phone call gave notice of a museum job opening close to his heart, the chance to tell the story of Sequoyah and the Cherokee Nation. All of his life paths from blacksmithing, Civil War reenactments, the Heritage Center, volunteering at Fort Loudoun and historical storytelling were intersecting at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, TN.

From listening to recorded Cherokee stories at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian as a kid to sharing history through period clothing and reenactments, the Cherokee story seemed to always be entwined with Charlie. It seemed no matter what period he turned to, there was a Cherokee connection. World War I is a historical period that he holds great interest in sharing, having many period uniforms and regularly participating in reenactments. Charlie shared that during WWI, the U.S. 30th Division Infantry Regiments, which contained Cherokee soldiers from western North Carolina..

The U.S. Military Commanders in the area discovered that German troops were intercepting their telephone communications and attacking them. So they issued the tactic of having the Cherokee troops deliver messages in their native tongue. It was successful, as the Germans didn’t understand. The Cherokee “code talkers” were the first known use of Native Americans in the American military to transmit messages under fire.

Everywhere he turned, the story of the Cherokee was coming into his view. Since 2000, Charlie Rhodarmer has enjoyed that view, fulfilling the dream to be at Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. He has been featured on C-Span and all over the world as the Keynote Speaker for many museums and events. Often sharing in period clothing, “I have always loved history, having military uniforms and civilian clothing from many periods. It’s fun to bring history to life.” Charlie remarked. And he really knows how, no matter the period or place, he makes the historical event, place or person come alive.

The connection to Sequoyah himself, from blacksmith to military service to educating others, is not lost to those who experience the living historian, Charlie Rhodarmer. He has faithfully served, for 18 years, as museum historian and director. The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum celebrated 27 years of history, heritage and culture this year. The museum honors the life and legacy of Sequoyah, the Cherokee Indian, who created the Cherokee syllabary. His passion to educate others on the Cherokee history is something he considers a great privilege. He will join the 2nd Cherokee Indian delegation to London at the end of this year, as they have been invited to participate in the 2019 New Year’s Day Parade in London. Charlie is honored to serve in the period costume of Lt. Henry Timberlake, the escort of the first Cherokee delegation to London.

It is difficult to capture the Charlie Rhodarmer story in an article. It truly needs the page numbering equal of the novel, “War & Peace.” They say success is to live your life doing something you love, and therefore Charlie is one of life’s most successful. He found the ultimate happiness living history for us all.

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Celebrate the Season Thursday, December 6 4:30-7:00 p.m.

Get ready for Christmas with cookies, music, and, of course, Santa! Town Hall is beautifully decorated for this annual free event, hosted by the Farragut Arts and Beautification Committee. In addition to sweet treats and musical performances by local school and church groups, children can make crafts and get their photo taken with the man in red. The Farragut Museum is also open for tours. See visitfarragut.org/events for more information.

Farragut Town Hall, 11408 Municipal Center Drive
Thursday, Dec. 6 4:30-7:00 p.m.

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Chelsea & Drew

It’s not the typical love story for the mother of a boy to set up a blind date, but that is the case of how Drew Bowlin met Chelsea Harris, his mother set them up on a date. Turned out that Chelsea’s University of Tennessee cheerleading coach, Joy had watch Drew grow up and when the time came for him to propose, his mom and Joy would assist in making it extra special.

That particular day, Joy was out of town and spent the day issuing orders to her assistant coach, Chelsea. It was an exhausting and stressful day being made better by a planned date with Drew later than evening. That was until the insisted text from Joy sent Chelsea to Neyland Stadium with Mascot Smokey to search for something. Through many twists and turns they finally found what they were looking for and Chelsea found Drew standing in the middle of the field with a heart made of pom poms. Unable to move and breathless, Chelsea looked up to the Jumbotron seeing a picture with the text…Will you Marry Me?

The engagement photos show the story of merging of two worlds, Drew Bowlin,former minor league pitcher for San Francisco Giants and Chelsea Lee Harris, former UT Cheerleader. He pitched his loved which she secured with a glove.

On Saturday, December 9, 2017 at Castleton Farms in Loudon, the two became one and forever will be known as Drew and Chelsea Bowlin. The holiday themed wedding was captured in photography by Melanie Fritz, with personal touches of floral arrangements done by family members. Cascading poinsettias highlighted the six tier wedding cake, perfectly matching the decor of a spectacular day. The perfect venue with
all the right details for a blessed and beautiful union.

No matter where baseball takes Drew, his favorite cheerleader Chelsea will at his side.

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Elyse Wilde Contemporary Clothing

Elyse Wilde is a contemporary women’s clothing store in the Bearden area, but more than that, it is the realization of a lifelong dream for Knoxville native, Chelsea Brooks.

Chelsea has always enjoyed being active, the outdoors and doing arts and crafts of any kind. While working towards a bachelor’s in Textiles, Merchandising and Design (with a concentration in Fashion Merchandising) at MTSU, she had the chance to participate in a summer internship at Place Showroom out in L.A. She gained a basic understanding of the fashion industry but yearned to learn more. She also was intrigued by the West Coast’s culture and environment, and when she graduated from college, she moved out West to work for REVOLVE as a Buyer’s Assistant.

In 2015, Chelsea married Steven Brooks, whom she’d met in college, and when he landed an internship back in Knoxville, the two returned to their roots.

Chelsea always knew she wanted to do something in the fashion industry and had the idea of opening a clothing store in the back of her mind. Her mentor at REVOLVE, Bella, even encouraged her to open her own store. After settling back into Knoxville, Chelsea tried different jobs, but nothing seemed to be a good fit. She missed the process of placing orders and working with her old reps from the industry, and branching out into the retail side of things seemed to be a natural next step in her career. She already knew the brands she wanted to carry, and the rest, through lots of hard work and long nights, just came together.

In selecting a location for the store, Chelsea wanted to be close to downtown but still accessible to West Knoxville. The Vertex at Midtown shopping center felt like a perfect fit. As for the name—Elyse is Chelsea’s middle name, a name she once thought was “weird.” The use of her middle name is symbolic of the acceptance that just because something seems different or strange does not mean it is bad. “Wilde” was actually a suggestion made by her husband and, according to Chelsea, incorporates a little of her “wild” West Coast side as well as the importance of nature and the environment.

Elyse Wilde brings West Coast fashion right to the heart of Knoxville, featuring brands like Auguste the Label, Cleobella, Free People and Spell & Gypsy. That free-spirited California style is not only in the clothing selection, however, but also in the store itself. Expect lots of bright whites; clean, modern lines; archways; and the organic look of a wood ceiling. You may be greeted at the door by Chloe, a friendly miniature golden doodle. The adorable shop pup is also joined by human staff, who are happy to assist with styling outfits or finding gifts for friends and family.

Elyse Wilde strives to make everyone feel welcome, no matter their age or size. According to Chelsea, “The goal at Elyse Wilde is to empower women by creating a community to promote unified living while incorporating expressions of self-empowerment, individuality and healthful living.” Clothing is a form of self-expression, and it is all about finding you an outfit that helps you feel confident and beautiful. Come out today and find your inner style at Elyse Wilde!

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Gary & Karen Braden’s Tennessee Christmas

When you pull down the wooded gravel driveway that leads to the Braden home, you have no idea of the little slice of paradise that awaits you. Three years ago, Gary and Karen Braden purchased their lovely 6+ acre lot and farmhouse and dove straight into the process of making it their dream home, or in this case, homestead.

The former owners (and builders) were from Knoxville, and they themselves had quite the affinity for antiques—travelling around the southeast as dealers of early American pieces.

The home was a Williamsburg plan that they constructed with various farmhouse elements from the 1850s. Because of this, the house boasts 7 dismantled and refurbished fireplaces, two large stairwells and other incredibly idyllic ‘farmhouse’ traits.

It was only natural, when the Braden’s set out to update and customize the home, that they wanted to maintain its original nature, character and charm. They did opt, however, to add a covered front porch that runs the length of the home, an incredibly cozy screened porch, a mudroom/office, garage and guest cottage.

The property is also home to a cabin (c. 1830) that was relocated from upper East Tennessee, reconstructed and re-chinked, that happens to be the first building one sees when entering the property.

And if the cabin and main house interiors aren’t enough to make one swoon, the Colonial Williamsburg-style flower, fruit, vegetable and herb gardens–complete with antique brick formations, pebble rock footpaths, Koi pond, shed and gazebo–certainly are.

When asked about his favorite aspect of the home, Gary Braden—2nd generation owner of Braden’s Lifestyles Furniture—says it’s definitely the keeping room, which opens up directly off of their dreamy farmhouse kitchen. He explains that the keeping room is where the home’s largest fireplace is located, creating an inviting, warm and relaxing area during the fall and winter months when the wood fire perpetually burns. The home’s cozy screened porch with painted wood floors is his 2nd favorite spot and where he prefers to greet the day with that first cup of coffee and quiet time.

Karen Braden, without hesitation, says her favorite spot in the home is the kitchen. It could be the large open space, the gorgeous marble countertops, the subway tile, the big behind-the-sink windows or the sink itself—a refurbished 100+ year old cast iron farmhouse basin. Or it could be because it’s where she makes all of her magic, as she is quite the baker.

The Braden’s recently shared that while their family’s Christmas traditions have changed in recent years, due to the growth and development of their kids’ families and personal traditions, they still hang on to a few of the same activities. For starters, in addition to her other Christmas trees, Karen maintains a ‘kids’ tree,’ where she showcases all of the homemade ornaments from each of her three children: Nick, Natalie and Alexander. They still love to host and entertain, whether it’s a Christmas Eve dinner for the family, a large church-based group or even the Braden’s team members and spouses for holiday parties.

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